But on the other hand..
Trip Start Sep 09, 2004
394Trip End Ongoing
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There's little point in boring you with the full story but the ordeal that was endured in putting the camper through the warrant of fitness process and the events surrounding the madness can only be described as 'Jeremy Beadle', only he didn't actually have the balls to turn up.
It basically involved a lengthy process of fine-tuning and re-testing the rear brakes over and over, as they couldn't quite get the thing to pass. The untimely breakdown of a further component meanwhile had us rushing around in the mechanics courtesy car, which endured a ridiculously timed puncture before entertaining us with a full staggering collapse of the transmission, just 20k's or so short of the supplier in Alexandra who had our vital part.
All in all it was just a long string of catastrophic events that stretched from initial disbelief to full on laughter, hysterical laughter, which stopped abruptly with the lengthy and awkward negotiation over the final invoice. Just thinking about it now brings about waves of trauma so I'll press on, just as we did the minute the van was legal again. After throwing around a few random ideas we decided to head up the west coast, stopping in Haast and Frans Josef along the way.
At Haast village you can take a small sealed road south, which takes you down to Jackson Head at the foot of Jackson Bay. As far as roads, routes and tracks go this chunk of headland marks the end of the line and joins the northern edge of the Fiordland with an interesting marriage of mountains and rainforest. As enticing as it looks on the map there's actually not much there, other than a mobile fresh fish retailer and a long sweeping bay overcast with dark skies, providing an ominous but surprisingly peaceful setting.
The west coast of New Zealand sees ridiculous levels of rainfall (over seven metres in the Fiordland) and so the landscape here is lush and green with an earthy rich moisture to the air. What Jackson Bay does have is an interesting 'end of the line' atmoshpere to it. A barren and sparsely inhabited corner of coastline it may be, but quite a pleasant stop nonetheless.
We're staying in Haast village tonight before another long jaunt up north tomorrow. Haast is almost as remote as Jackson Head and sees similar weather patterns. We're actually at the same camp we stayed at with the Stray bus back in '04 - in the middle of nowhere. The memories of Haast back then are as hazy and empty as the place is now, though they do have comfortable chairs.
I'm just stoked we finally got to start the trip. While I can't say it's good to have the sandflies back in our lives it's a joy to be back on the road again..